I am a self-confessed gadget freak and over the years I have spent a small fortune on various different gadgets that were meant to enhance my life and make things easier. The newest fishing gadget that seems to be (slowly) reaching the masses is the fish finder designed for fishing from the bank.
Fish finders have been around for years however these have been aimed at anglers fishing from boats, kayaks and other water craft. These fish finders cannot be used by shore anglers fishing from the bank, a pier or a jetty
There are a few different shore specific fish finders available, and the most well known include.
There are a few reviews and write ups about these different fish finders however they tend to be professional reviews from magazines, publications and online sites rather than reviews from anglers that have had to part with their own hard earned cash to buy one. Whilst the professional reviews are most likely to give an honest account of the fish finders you may have to take them with a pinch of salt and consider there may be a bit of bias.
Whilst the fish finders do, indeed give some indication of any fish in the swim they also have a secondary feature in that they show a topography map of the river/lake bed. The above fish finders clearly shows and contours of the river/lake bed, i.e. holes, dips, troughs, plateaus and shelves etc. which may give some indication of where the fish travel and feed, which can be very useful information.
Even though the fish finders give some idea about the contours and shape of the river/lake bed they don’t clearly identify the makeup of the river/lake bed. Some of the fish finders claim to do this, however I wouldn’t trust the conclusions.
I agree that knowing the topography of the water can be useful in catching fish, or at least setting down a carpet of bait, however this cannot be taken in isolation. Plateaus are well known fish feeding hotspots but if the plateau is caked in thick mud or silt, or covered by a thick carpet of weed you are going to struggle to fish it. At the very least you need to know what you are dealing with so you can adapt your fishing rigs accordingly. Casting a bottom bait and letting it sink in silt, mud or weed is unlikely to catch a fish.
The only way of accurately identifying the composition of the river/lake bed is to drag a weight along it, i.e. the old fashioned way as one of these new must have fish finders cannot do this.
Personally, I prefer to know the composition of the river/lake bed than the topography of it as I believe the fish will swim all over the place and not always follow a “set route”. I much prefer to know if I am fishing in a weedy swim, gravelly swim, muddy/silty swim so I can use the best rig, and also best bait. For example, in a weedy swim I will fish a pop up to keep the bait clear of the weed, in a muddy/silty swim I will fish a critically balanced bait so it doesn’t sink in to the bottom out of sight and in a gravelly swim I will fish a standard bottom bait.
I can see the use of one of these new type fish finders for doing some homework and mapping a fishing lake, and if I were going to fish just one lake for the season and had the time available I would invest in one so I could quickly identify the highs and lows, peaks and troughs etc. of the lake bed. Once I had the mapped the contours of the lake I would then get the marker rod out and start working out the composition of the lake bed so I knew what type of rig/bait to fish and where.
These new fish finders aren’t particularly cheap, but then no gadgets are cheap. That said, when you consider the cost of other types of fishing gear, such as rods, reels, bite alarms, luggage……. Basically everything other than terminal tackle the fish finders aren’t mega expensive and are affordable.
Would I recommend one of these new type of shore/bank fishing fish finders? The answer to this depends entirely on the sort of fishing you do.
If you are a general coarse angler I don’t think one of these fish finders will increase your catch rate and put more fish on the bank, and I think you’d be better off saving your money and putting it towards other fishing equipment.
If, however, you are a carp angler and fish only a small number of lakes targeting large carp I can see one of these fish finders being a very useful tool indeed and you will get to know what is under the water of the lakes you fish in no time, which should increase your catch rate.